Is Congress Top Brass Treading on Thin Ice in Supporting Chidambaram?

In an unprecedented show of solidarity, the entire Congress top brass has come out in support & defence of P Chidambaram who is in CBI custody for corruption & money laundering charges.

Considering the gravity & the plethora of cases which could have serious ramifications for the former Finance & Home Minister, it is surprising how the top leaders of the Congress have come together in support of their colleague.

Though it is too early to make any prognosis regarding Chidambaram’s fate, it would be safe to say that with the money trail to the shell companies floated by his son getting clearer, the law is fast catching on with the father son duo.

And the matter does not end for the Chidambarams with the INX Media case for which he is in CBI custody till the 26th. This could just be the tip of the iceberg as the ED & CBI widened their net to probe the huge money trail to the various shell companies floated by Karti Chidambaram.

One of those cases is the Aircel Maxis scam where Karti is alleged to have demanded & got 5% kickback of the INR 40 billion deal struck by Maxis communication for obtaining 74% share of Aircel. It is alleged by the CBI that Chidambaram as Finance Minister withheld FIPB clearance of the deal till his son got the 5% kickback.

Apart from this, the ED is investigating the former Finance Minister’s role in granting illegal FIPB clearance & approvals in at least 4 cases involving Diageo Scotland, Katara Holdings, Essar Steel & Elforge.

P Chidambaram with Rajiv & Sonia Gandhi
1989 – Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi enjoying a South Indian meal served on a banana leaf with P Chidambaram looking on (Courtesy: Karti Chidambaram’s FB page)

It is in this context that the Congress senior brass’ unequivocal support for Chidambaram becomes a high risk game. Either the top hierarchy of the Congress is oblivious of the serious situation that Chidambaram finds himself in, or it is hoping that the cases won’t stand the trial of courts.

Another reason could be the similar situation that other senior Congress leaders find themselves with cases against them & thus the support for each other. The Nehru-Gandhis are embroiled in the National Herald case, in which they are out on bail. Investigations in the Augusta Westland scam are also inching ever closer to the Congress’ first family, with several middle men in the investigating agencies net.

Either way, the party, particularly the old guard is treading on thin ice by siding with what appears to be a clear case of misusing office for bestowing benefits of astonishing amounts to one’s kin.

If Chidambaram and his son, who is also a Congress MP, were to be convicted, the entire party stands the risk of being judicially tarred by the black brush of corruption.

Interestingly, just like with the abrogation of Article 370 where the Congress was split down the middle with the young guard supporting the abrogation, in Chidambaram’s case while the old guard has been vociferous in its support the young Turks like Scindia have been reticent.

Another surprising silence is from the former PM Manmohan Singh under whom Chidambaram was the Finance Minister. Being a former FM, the ex-PM must be well aware of all the intricacies & technicalities of the financial muddle Chidambaram is in, and his comparative quiet on the matter is telling.

So with the Congress throwing its weight behind Chidambaram & throwing caution to the winds, it would be interesting to see how things pan out for Chidambaram in the special court of the CBI.


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About the Author

Aman Gupta
Political Editor, Samast Bharat magazine